Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Why I get sentimental about France

The original loo at our French house had a lever that looked like a bus gearchange. It operated a trapdoor… Inevitably the chromed fittings leaked.

At the mairie I asked the welcoming middle-aged woman if she could recommend a plumber. She did better than that. She made the phone call, explaining “there is this gentlemen who is suffering ennuis with his toilet”. I liked that. Ennui is both a problem and boredom. Yes, I was suffering boredoms with my toilet.

Monsieur (always Monsieur) Chauvel arrived promptly in his bleu de travail and his Pierre Laval moustache. He not only inspired confidence, he was essentially likeable.

The leak was immediately traced to a washer long since unavailable. M. Chauvel improvised and the loo remained leakless until it was replaced years later. I then drew his attention to the water-heating system: a tiny fifty-year-old geyzer over the sink linked via 20 m of copper tube to the shower and handbowl in the bathroom. M. Chauvel nodded. It needed a thingy which didn’t exist. But he could make one.

On the final day of our holiday he removed the geyzer from the wall and took it home with him. When we returned a month or two later it was back on the wall, repaired. M. Chauvel had picked up the key left with the menuisier and done the work in our absence.

At this time, artisans in Kingston-upon-Thames were charging £65 just to look at a sick washing machine. With no guarantees.

More on techno-hero Chauvel soon.


irene.suckling said...

On the other hand, I too went to the Mairie for a plumber when the boiler blew up. He recommended M. Pape who miraculously got us a boiler within 24 hours and has been assiduously working on it ever since (8 days_). Lots of "zut alors" and hissing through teeth but, as yet, no hot water. Not regularly that is. However, in the meantime he has mended a toilet which now works - very noisily, but it works: renewed a washer miraculously when he saw me struggling. Has offered to do "piscine?", tiles on the roof, guttering, and cut an old tree stump out. In time that is, but isn't it wonderful to meet someone who actually wants to help you.

Barrett Bonden said...

The astonishing thing is being able to go to the mairie and get help from them in the first place. All those jokes about "petits fonctionnaires" turn out to be untrue. As I've implied in my post M. Chauvel grew and grew in our estimation. More about him later. Thanks for the response